“Tillerson Shuns All but Conservative Website on Asia Tour,” shrieks The New York Times in a recent headline about President Trump’s Secretary of State.
Increasingly, a lot of people complain that President Donald Trump violates the First Amendment when he eschews or challenges established, traditional media sources.
In what universe is this true? Violating the First Amendment would mean doing things like sending in troops to shut down speeches, or arresting people who criticize the government. It would also involve actions like using IRS intimidation to quiet right-wing Tea Party groups, something the last administration actually did.
A right to free speech is not the same as a right to be heard. CNN, The New York Times and other Trump-blasting/left-biased organizations imply they have a right to be heard when they condemn him for criticizing them, or for shutting them out. But they don’t have a right to be heard. Nobody has a Constitutional right to be heard. For CNN, ABC or The Washington Post to have such a right, it would mean they possess a right to stay in business, a privilege nobody else enjoys. It’s just not so. Sure, they’re free to exist and do what they can to hold on to readers or viewers. But they’re not entitled to have the government’s support in keeping them visible.
In a similar vein, the hysteria has already begun about the Trump Administration’s intention to defund the National Endowment for the Arts and possibly PBS and NPR, as well. But once again: Why do these organizations and “corporations” have a right to be heard — at taxpayer’s expense — that nobody else enjoys? Imagine the howls if, say, Fox News or Breitbart requested or demanded federal funding. It would never happen. Nobody rational would even want this funding, because government freezes the intellect and potential value of everything it touches. If you value free speech, you don’t want the government to fund you. And if your speech is worth anything, you’ll never need it.
Nobody has a “right” to enjoy access to any President. Did Breitbart claim a right to have access to President Obama? Of course not. Then why do these more established media companies get to claim such a right for themselves? Merely because they’re established? Merely because they’re left-wing rather than right-wing in orientation, thereby giving them an unstated moral superiority and political right others do not enjoy? We all know that’s their answer, because it’s the only possible answer.
The First Amendment is the most precious right we have. Without it, everything is lost. With it, all remains possible because people are free to oppose what the government does and make the case for liberty and the Constitution in its place, as many of us still do today. We can’t let the First Amendment become an excuse to allow entitled narcissists, like those at CNN and The New York Times, “guilt” President Trump into giving them more air time.
Fortunately, I don’t think Donald Trump’s going to fall for it.
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